USMNT Status


via Mobilus in Mobili

Maxwell Vaughan, Writer

The United States Men’s National team has not played a game since February 1st. Yet on Thursday, November 12, the Yanks were back in action versus Wales. This time around, there is a lot to be excited about for these friendlies. Due to travel restrictions on MLS players (because their playoffs are coming up), the squad that Gregg Berhalter called up is made up of a much younger, mostly European-based group of players. In fact, the latest roster is the youngest roster (21 years, 300 days) of any top-150 ranked country. Among the players called up, ten are uncapped (have not made an appearance for the national team), and twelve are 20 years of age or younger. So, we could be getting a glimpse here at America’s future stars and the potential squads for the 2022 and 2026 World Cups. Naturally, this warrants a breakdown.

The most interesting player in this 24-man roster is Yunus Musah. The 17-year-old, New York native grew up in Italy and England, where he shined in Arsenal’s Youth Teams. He is eligible to play for Ghana, Italy, England, and the United States. The fact that Musah chose the United States (for right now) over two prestigious teams like Italy and England is evidence of the promise and allure that the USMNT has. Musah plays his club football for Valencia in Spain, and has impressed in his first appearances for Los Murcielagos, becoming the youngest non-Spanish player to score for them. He can play either as a winger or a box-to-box midfielder. He is a workhorse who likes to cover a lot of ground, is very athletic, and is a good passer. Unfortunately, though, his acceptance of this call-up does not make him permanently American. Since these games are only friendlies, he can make a one-time switch to another national team that he is eligible for. England is playing in the European Championships this summer, and I fear that a call-up would easily sway him to joining England. If he stays with the USMNT, however, he has the promise to play a key role in the next two World Cups.

As I mentioned earlier, ten players on this roster (at the time of writing this) are uncapped. Thus, we are getting our first look at some exciting prospects like Gio Reyna and Konrad de la Fuente. Reyna has been on fire for Borussia Dortmund, becoming the youngest player in Bundesliga history to have three assists in a game. He has been vital in Dortmund’s attack, creating a great partnership with young Daniish striker Erling Haaland. Reyna has the potential to be the best American player ever. He is doing things on the pitch that very few other teenagers are doing. Konrad, just 19, is finally a full-fledged member of the Barcelona first team this season. Although he is yet to make an appearance, he was impressive in preseason and has made several appearances on the bench. The young winger could help bolster our attack for years to come.

These friendlies will also serve as a chance for Berhalter to figure out who fits in the vacant striker position. I hope from the bottom of my heart that the days of Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris, and Gyasi Zardes are over, or at least I hope they will be by the 2022 World Cup. Regardless, Berhalter needs to find a reliable number 9. Josh Sargent of Werder Bremen seems like the best candidate, but his club declined to release him for the friend-lies due to their COVID-19 policies. So, Berhalter called up 20-year-old strikers Sebastian Soto (Telstar) and Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen). They are both young, raw, and unproven, but they have a chance to show the manager what they can do. All in all, this is easily the most exciting and promising group of players that the United States has ever fielded.